After missing the first target by a casual 3.39 million doses, the Federal Government is now in throes of attracting heat over their fairly inept COVID vaccine rollout. And it’s not just a little snafu or hiccup either. The handling of the whole shebang by Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been so sub-par that experts in the field are now openly slamming it as an “unmitigated disaster.”
In a searing op-ed published in The Sydney Morning Herald this morning, UNSW economics professor Richard Holden and Blueprint Institute chief economist Steven Hamilton lambasted the vaccine rollout, stating that it was “simply untenable for the federal government to continue to pretend it’s going well.”
“Enough with the political spin about how awesome our rollout is progressing. Enough of blaming Europe and state governments. Enough of the mindless homilies about how ‘it’s not a race’ and ‘we’re not in a hurry’,” the piece roars.
Australia’s lacklustre vaccine rollout has so far seen numbers fall far short of the hugely vaunted targets that Morrison and the Federal Government trumpeted in January.
That original plan’s first major milestone was set at the end of March, by which time the hope was to have delivered four million doses of COVID vaccine to Australians. In reality, the nationwide program managed to deliver just 603,000.
After a heavily delayed start, Australia’s vaccination levels fall well behind that of the likes of the UK and the US. And while those two nations have had extra time and a far more urgent need to push the vaccine out, the stats are rather stark. The UK has managed to administer at least one dose of the COVID vaccine to 46% of its population, while the US has given jabs to around 30% of its citizens. By contrast, Australia sits at just 2% at the moment.
The sluggishness of the vaccine rollout becomes even more stark when you consider the fact that the US managed to administer four million doses, equivalent to Australia’s entire initial March target, in one single day.
Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt have made vague allusions to more transparency in the vaccine program, particularly as the biff on with states gets uglier. But presumably that will only begin once the numbers of delivered vaccines start painting the Federal Government’s program in a much more favourable light.
And while Scott Morrison continues to assert that “it’s not a race,” the counterpoint, for obvious reasons, is clear: it very fucking much is, actually.